UNPRECEDENTED, AMAZING SH*T – Chester French Interview


Chester French interview

By Marsha Gosho Oakes

“You’re going to watch history unfold with these guys. I feel it in my gut,” champions Pharrell, who won a bidding war with Kanye West and Jermaine Dupri to sign this musical duo. Weeks before their forthcoming gig in London (9th June @ Old Blue Last), 24-year-old Hardvard graduates Max Drummey (better known in gossip magazines for his relationship with Peaches Geldof) and D.A. Wallach, collectively known as Chester French, speak to SoulCulture about the response to their debut album, Love The Future.

“Pharrell can be a little over the top with his praise but we can’t be mad at him for that. It’s a great introduction to the world to have another artist who people trust and who you respect support what you’re doing.” D.A. Wallach, the band’s lead vocalist, tells SoulCulture. They opted to sign with Pharrell rather than Kanye because, “He [Pharrell] was giving us the opportunity to do whatever we wanted musically and to keep producing and writing our own material, so that was really important to us. And we also just really got along with him and thought he was really a great guy…”

chesterfrenchThey named themselves Chester French because they “just thought it was a cool name. It was six years ago. We heard of the sculptor Daniel Chester French and we thought it’s such a cool name. We got rid of Daniel, too pedestrian.” The album was as randomly titled, a nod to “Kim Jong-il, the head of North Korea; his father led the revolution there and that was the revolutionary slogan, I thought it was kind of an interesting phrase. It didn’t have any super significant it just felt right when we saw it.”

Citing The Beatles, Zeppelin and Outkast as key influences, Chester French “seeks to prove that pop music can be at once challenging and accessible,” with an album that touches and blends the influences of pop, Hip Hop, Country, rock and soul. 6’11” musician Drummey adds, “You can be genuine or you can be authentic in representing yourself through the music you make, and if anything’s soul that’s kind of it.”

The songs on Love The Future “ just come from our experiences,” D.A. says. “It wasn’t based on being in college but some of the songs are just about girls. That’s half pop music there, or more. Girl songs and there are more novel things – a bonus track on Amazon about the leader of North Korea. That’s as abstract as we go.”

After much hype-by-association, the album’s release is Chester French’s time to prove themselves. They admit, “For a long time we were just riding on reputation on the accolades that some other artists had given us, but just music listeners didn’t have anything to check out. So it’s been a huge weight off our shoulders just to actually release music and go from being a lot of hype to something you can go listen to, and either you appreciate us or you don’t.”

Recording their album from the studios at Harvard in 2007, the pair “had made what we thought of as the full record and it took us a long time to get any real interest in it from anyone…” Persisting in honour of the personal investment both had made in the project, D.A. considers “we really believed in it and thought that the music was great and thought that we had something to say to the world. At that point you have to believe in yourself. I don’t mean that in a conceited way, I just don’t think we would be so motivated to be out here touring and promoting our project if we didn’t believe in it.”

jacquesjams_frontcover-500x500“Since the business is in crisis the labels are open to different things. So for instance we didn’t really have to fight for the ability to put out Jaques Jams which a couple of years ago they would have probably freaked out about because it’s really just a free album. But what we’ve learned from this project more specifically is that it almost more than our real album has exposed people to our music and generated supporters. So I think we’re experimenting and our main focus is finding more folks who like what we do; which is what the labels should care about.”

D.A. continues, “It’s a historical accident that for a very brief period of time you were able to sell recordings of music. That really is only something that has been common for a period of 60 years – and at a mass level, for 40 or 50 years. So that’s not something that I take for granted but there is a moment of transition in the history of music where people were able to sell music and now that’s sort of over, you have infinite perfect copies of every recording of music that was made so you’ve gotta get over it and start doing other interesting things as an artist or a supporter of artists, if you’re a label you have to look for different opportunities to make money and support yourself. Metallica could tour until all those guys die and they could give away all their music. Instead of suing kids – which is stupid – you could just go on tour all the time.

“That’s one thing I find, every night I tell people about our mixtape during the show and I say ‘make some noise if you want free music’ and a whole audience of people that have just paid money to come see our show, screamed. So clearly they’re willing to pay to come and see music live but they’re turned off by the idea of paying for recordings that you don’t need to pay for.”

Jonas Brothers and My Chemical Romance chart highly on DA’s list of bands pushing the boundaries in music, “just doing totally unprecedented amazing shit.”

Is that what you’re doing? I ask.

“Yeah. Unprecedented, amazing shit. Yeah.”

Chester French play at Old Blue Last, London on 9th June.
For full international tour dates, visit www.myspace.com/chesterfrench